Coronavirus / Home & Family / Safety & Health

Warning About Pop-Up Covid Testing Tents

Covid testing

In Center City Philadelphia, residents are being warned about questionable COVID-19 pop-up tents that offer free coronavirus tests. Per CBS Philly News, officials say the staff working at some sites claimed FEMA funded them, but over the weekend, it was confirmed that these claims were untrue. This comes at a difficult time when Philadelphia hospitals, like many others nationwide, are experiencing stress related to the high number of COVID-19 patients. An uptick of cases is causing many hospitals to cancel procedures and tighten visitor policies in response. The fear is that, as pressures mount nationwide, unscrupulous individuals and businesses may increasingly seek to take advantage of the innocent, as likely in the case of these “fly-by-night” COVID-19 testing centers.

Director of Communications for the Philadelphia Department of Health explains, “Our real worry is that someone just shows up on the sidewalk and puts up $100 tents and says, ‘Hey, I’m giving out free COVID testing. And give me your contact information.” Going to an unofficial COVID-19 site can cause a myriad of problems, including incorrect test results and ID theft. Meanwhile, it’s helpful to know that government agencies, public health departments, and other authoritative sources are working to make COVID-19 vaccination centers and testing sources easily searchable on Google. Since the availability of vaccines and vaccine locations varies from place to place, it is suggested that people research authentic locations. Those seeking testing should not go to a random pop-up. Instead, head to to find a testing location near you.

Understand that low and no-cost COVID-19 tests are available to everyone, even for those who are uninsured, at health centers and select pharmacies nationwide. Some sites may bill your insurance for a visit fee. If you have questions about virus testing or the vaccines themselves, your health care and health insurance providers can offer valuable information. Your state and local public health departments are also helpful resources. The bottom line is to exercise caution, do your research, and avoid random pop-up testing sites that are unverified. And be sure to report suspicious pop-up sites to your local authorities or health department immediately. Philadelphia is requesting that residents there call the health department at 215-685-5488 to report these ‘unaffiliated’ testing sites.

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